Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vitamin B3 - Niacin

Vitamin B3 (also known as Niacin) is another water soluble vitamin. It helps transform the food you eat into the energy you need (metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrate). Niacin is important for growth, mental health, healthy skin, normal digestion, the regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol, and for increased blood circulation. It is often used to treat mental illness and for the prevention of CHD (coronary heart disease)by reducing blood pressure.

Niacin can be found in meat, liver, poultry, fish, peanuts, beans, yeast, enriched whole grain breads and cereals, and nuts.

The recommendation for Niacin is 6 mg/day for toddlers (1 - 3 years), 8 mg/day for children (4 - 8 years), and 12 mg/day for early adolescents (9 - 13 years). The recommendations increases to 14 mg/day for women (14 - 70+ years) and increases yet again to 18 mg/day for pregnant women and 17 mg/day for lactating women. The RDA for men is 16 mg/day.

Niacin is easy to find in the Western diet because it is added to enrich/fortify whole grain products (as are iron, folate, thiamin, and riboflavin). Mild deficiency symptoms can include aggression, hyperactivity, diarrhea, poor memory, anxiety, depression, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and eczema. More severe deficiency can result in a condition called Pellagra.

Steph Wheler